Basketball: Family perform haka for Kiwi Kaylee Smiler at Brigham Young University senior night

Senior night is an emotional time for any US college athlete - their last home appearance before leaving school.

Kiwi basketballer Kaylee Smiler could not avoid turning on the waterworks, as family and friends - including former Tall Blacks star Paora Winitana - performed a haka for her and her Brigham Young University teammates, before they faced University of Houston at Provo, Utah.

Kayle Smiler receives a haka at BYU senior night.
Kayle Smiler receives a haka at BYU senior night. Photo credit: YouTube

Smiler has attended the Mormon college since 2019, after an outstanding age group career at Waikato and Melville High School, where she was also student body president.

This season, she has played in 29 of the Cougars' 30 games, averaging 7.2 points in 35 minutes per game, while shooting a team-high 47.6 percent (39/82) from the three-poiont arc.

During her stay, Smiler has also made her mark as a Māori cultural leader at the college.

"Every year, BYU has a luau that showcases Polynesian cultures," she told the schools' website. "One of the leaders of luau reached out to me and said, 'Hey, are you free to lead the section... I know you're from New Zealand and you're Māori, it would be awesome if you could join'.

"My first reaction was, 'There's no way, I'm too busy'. A couple of weeks go by and she was, like, 'If you can't do it, we have nobody, so there won't be a Māori section at luau this year'. 

Kaylee Smiler in action for BYU.
Kaylee Smiler in action for BYU. Photo credit: Getty Images

"I called my dad and I called my sister and said, 'It's just unaccceptable, that can't happen'."

After defeating Houston 64-54, BYU are 16-14 with one regular season game remaining.